“Prada” vs. “Shopaholic” – Adaptation from the Page to the Screen
The Journalism industry became a popular background for two books in the early 2000’s – “Confessions of a Shopaholic” was published in the U.S in 2001 and “The Devil Wears Prada” was published not long after in 2003. Both books featured young, ambitious women who were pursuing careers in journalism and both were picked up by the film industry and made into popular chick-flicks aimed at the teen and 20’s market. I do not fall within that demographic, but enjoy watching this sort of movie with my girls and take guilty pleasure in watching them even when I’m by myself. I also must confess that in addition to owning these two dvds, I am also in possession of “13 Going On 30” and “New York Minute” – with the Olsen twins. They’re just fun, cute movies to watch and no deep thinking is required. It’s a nice break occasionally and I recommend it.
After watching both of these movies I decided to read the books. I always find it interesting to see how true the movie industry is to written version of the story. I think like most people, I find the book better than the movie, though in a couple of cases I thought the movie story was far superior to the book – “Forrest Gump” was a much richer interpretation of a simple man’s inadvertent affect upon history than the slim volume it sprung from and “The Notebook” was much less flowery (but still sweet) version of Nicholas Sparks’ syrupy novel.
In comparing the book “The Devil Wears Prada” to the movie of the same title, it is indeed a loose interpretation (as is stated on Wikipedia), but the movie does stay pretty close to the framework of the book and the divergences are understandable. I didn’t feel terribly sorry for the smoking, petulant, passive-aggressively vengeful Andy in the book and was happy that the movie character (Anne Hathaway) showed more positive personality traits. The conclusion of the book when Andy breaks from the magazine and pursues selling articles is much more believable than the movie’s implausible wrap-up of Andy’s unplanned career move. All in all, I thought the interpretation was true enough to the book that I would, as an author, be satisfied.
If “The Devil Wears Prada” is a loose interpretation of the book, “Confessions of a Shopaholic” is a fourth cousin, twice removed from the novel. As I reached the last page of the book, I just had to shake my head and wonder – how in the world a book based in London with a girl who works in the financial publishing business turn into a New York girl fighting to get into the fashion publishing business? The book and the movie are essentially two different stories with a handful of common elements barely linking them. I liked both the book and the movie, but I had to wonder at the winding (read convoluted) road that led from point A to point B. Isla Fisher is absolutely adorable though.
The question I have (and don’t I always have at least one?) is: As an author whose book is picked up by a movie studio – just how much artistic control do you have over the interpretation in the script? I assume it’s written into the contract and I know that sometimes the author winds up being the main writer of the script. It’s all very mysterious and I wish I knew more about the process. With regards to “Shopaholic” I really wonder if the author was on board with the reworking of her book – I don’t know how happy I’d written a book, sold it to a studio and it was reworked into something different all together. Maybe she was just overjoyed at the recognition of her book (who wouldn’t be?) as movie-worthy and didn’t think beyond that. Or maybe she just sold out.
Over the years of writing clever e-mails to co-workers, many of them have urged me to write a book. That’s easier said than done as one must have a story, not just snappy repartee’ and funny anecdotes to keep people interested. There is a topic from my life that I have been turning over in my head for a while and it is conceivable that I may be able to put enough text together on the subject to make a manuscript (can’t say book unless it’s published!). I was thinking that if I ever did such a thing as finish and get published a work like that whether I would let a studio augment it into something unrecognizable from my original work. Would I sell out? It’s impossible to say until one is faced with that decision. I certainly hope that I would embrace artistic integrity over a big payout. Perhaps along with the fat check comes the comforting thought that there is now name recognition, a fan base and the means to maintain one’s lifestyle while continuing to write. As I said in my previous post, I’d be willing to sacrifice a year of my life to launch into a dream career, so maybe it is conceivable that I would leverage my work in order to finance my dreams. The world may never know.